One of the hallmarks of the restored Church has been a desire for all members to have easy access to the scriptures. Earlier this month, the Church took another step toward reaching that goal.
Under the direction of the First Presidency and Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve, chairman of the Church's scriptures committee, the Church has released a portable stand-alone version of the New Testament.
Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy, a member of the scriptures committee, said the purpose of this new edition is to increase accessibility of the words of the Savior to members of the Church.
"Sometimes with the big Bible, you have an onerous physical presence," Elder Pieper said. "This is smaller and easier to put in a bag or purse and read during the day."
The standard text size (5¼" x 7¼") and footnotes do not vary from the current LDS version of the King James Bible. However, the book does not contain the Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, lengthier excerpts from the Joseph Smith Translation or biblical maps and photos, which make up more than 800 pages of the current LDS King James Version.
With these materials omitted, the black-covered paperback comes in at one-fourth of an inch thick and 404 pages at a cost of only $2.
This new edition comes just months before Sunday School gospel doctrine classes begin their study of the New Testament.
Since gospel doctrine lessons often refer to other sets of scriptures, Elder Pieper said members should still bring their complete set of scriptures on Sunday, and use the portable edition to read the lesson material during the week.
"We don't want this to replace members bringing their full scriptures to Church," he said.
Rob Jex, director of scriptures coordination for the Church's Curriculum Department and secretary to the scriptures committee, said Sunday School was not a primary motivation for the publication, but did affect the timing of its release.
"The purpose of this publication is to help members have a convenient format to read more of the Savior's words," Brother Jex said. "Part of the reason we expedited the release was so it could be ready for the new course of study."
With The Book of Mormon already available in several portable formats, Brother Jex added there is no current plan to expand this portable concept to other Standard Works.
According to Elder Pieper and Brother Jex, the portable edition will be tested in limited release for the rest of the year to gauge interest in expanding it worldwide.
The book is available in Church distribution centers from Logan to Spanish Fork, Utah. Those in the rest of the U.S. and Canada may order the book online at www.ldscatalog.com or by phone at 1-800-537-5001.